States with legal marijuana see fewer opioid prescriptions

How Studying Sewage May Help Slow the Opioid Epidemic

The number of Americans dying from opioid overdoses continues to rise; there were more than 42,000 USA deaths from this cause in 2016, up from 33,000 deaths in 2015, according to a March 30 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Opioid death rates are not lower in states that do not have protection for the use of marijuana, showing a clear link between the two.

New research has been released that further highlights the potential role of medical cannabis in combating the Nation's opioid crisis.

Wen found that medical and adult-use cannabis laws were associated with lower opioid prescribing rates.

The study of Medicaid patients examined the association between opioid prescribing rates and state marijuana laws implemented from 2011 to 2016.

There is widespread agreement among doctors and public health experts that marijuana is effective at treating chronic pain. The campaign focuses on making cannabis an option for pain management.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina says starting Sunday it's no longer covering first-time prescription of short-acting opioids for more than a seven-day supply. In Prescription Nation, a digest analyzing how states are tackling the worst drug crisis in recorded U.S. history, the Council assigned its highest mark of "Improving" to Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Washington, DC, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, Virginia and West Virginia.

Kim Jong-un, wife attend K-pop concert in Pyongyang
I had initially planned to attend a performance the day after tomorrow but I came here today after adjusting my schedule. Kim was seen clapping in tune to some of the songs and took photographs with the performers after the show.

The Trump administration's decision to increase spending to address the opioid crisis is a step in the right direction, but this epidemic needs more attention.

Both studies were released Monday by the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

In the second study, Ashley Bradford, David Bradford and Amanda Abraham of the University of Georgia found that at the state level, medical marijuana laws were associated with an 8.5 percent reduction in the number of daily opioid doses filled under Medicare Part D, relative to states without medical marijuana laws.

So what can be done to reduce the use of prescription opioids that lead to addiction? Even if patients chose to switch from opioids to medical marijuana, the number was not high enough to reflect lowered opioid use throughout the data. Instead, it should be a back-up option for patients who are struggling to manage pain and who could be in danger of addiction.

"Marijuana is one of the potential alternative drugs that can provide relief from pain at a relatively lower risk of addiction and virtually no risk of overdose", Wen and Hockenberry write. Also, it's unclear from the studies exactly how much marijuana use was for medical versus recreational purposes or how much people might have relied on other non-opioid painkillers.

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